Patrons of two Amtrak stations in the Southern District of Illinois may be eligible for compensation as part of a recent Justice Department settlement.
On Jan. 29, federal authorities announced that a $2.25 million fund had been established to compensate travelers with a mobility disability who were harmed physically or emotionally because of accessibility issues at 78 Amtrak stations nationwide between 2013 and 2020.
Included in the settlement were Amtrak stations in Centralia and Effingham, Ill. According to Justice Department officials, those stations did not meet the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The stations in Centralia and Effingham were on a long list of stations where passenger platforms were not readily accessible to individuals with disabilities. Although the specific issues were not disclosed, examples include steep slopes, no detectable warnings at the platform edges, and ground surfaces that were not stable, firm, and slip resistant. The Effingham station was also cited for not having accessible bathrooms. Some of the violations at other stations covered in the settlement include inaccessible parking, lack of directional signs, high ticket counters, and deteriorated platforms.
In total, nine Amtrak stations in Illinois were cited by the Justice Department as non-ADA compliant, more than any other state. Aside from the stations in Centralia and Effingham, the others were located in Gilman, Homewood, Mattoon, Plano, Princeton, Rantoul, and Summit. Three Missouri stations were also included in the settlement: Kirkwood, La Plata, and Poplar Bluff.
To be eligible for monetary compensation, travelers must have a mobility disability and must have been harmed due to inaccessibility issues at one or more of the affected stations from July 23, 2013 to December 2, 2020. All claims must be submitted no later than May 29, 2021. Other restrictions may apply. Questions about the claims process should be directed to the settlement administrator by any of the following methods:
• Visit AmtrakDisabilitySettlement.com
• Email your name, address, and phone number to info@AmtrakDisabilitySettlement.com
• Call the Fund Administrator at (888) 334-6165 or TTY: (866) 411-6976.
Help is available for those who are unable to complete the claim form due to a disability.
As part of the settlement agreement, Amtrak has committed to make its intercity rail stations accessible, prioritizing stations with the most significant barriers to access. Over the next 10 years, Amtrak will design at least 135 stations to be accessible, complete construction at 90 of those stations, and have at least 45 more under construction. Amtrak will also train staff on ADA requirements and implement an agreed-upon process for accepting and handling ADA complaints. In demonstrating its commitment, Amtrak has already established an Office of the Vice President of Stations, Properties & Accessibility to coordinate its compliance with the ADA.
The settlement agreement with Amtrak was negotiated as part of a lawsuit filed by the Disability Rights Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. A copy of the complaint can be found by visiting www.ada.gov/amtrak_comp.html. The settlement agreement is also available online at AmtrakDisabilitySettlement.com. For more information on the Civil Rights Division, visit www.justice.gov/crt. For more information on the ADA, please call the toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TTY 800-514-0383) or visit www.ada.gov.